Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) has a devastating effect on health and the individuals it affects. It has far-reaching consequences for families, children, communities, and society as a whole. The best estimates suggest that in the UK just over 26% of heterosexual women, 32% of gay/lesbian women, 45% of bisexual women, 27% of gay men, 14% of heterosexual men and 80% of transgender people will experience domestic violence and abuse at some point in their lifetimes (ONS, 2018).
In total, 47% of women attending sexual health services will have experienced DVA at some point in their lives. Alongside gynaecological problems, sexual health is the most prevalent and persistent physical health consequence of DVA, which is also associated with increased sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unintended pregnancy.
Sexual health services can be the first point of contact for people affected by DVA and therefore sexual health practitioners can have a key role to play in supporting those who have experienced DVA to access advocacy services. However, most have had minimal training in identifying and responding to DVA.
ADViSE (Assessing for Domestic Violence and Abuse in Sexual Health Environments) adapts the IRIS programme for use in sexual health clinics. The initiative supports sexual health staff to recognise the signs and symptoms of patients affected by DVA, teaching them how to respond and provides patients with a direct referral pathway into specialist services in line with British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASSH) DVA guidance.
ADViSE has been piloted in sexual health clinics in Bristol and East London, and the mixed methods evaluation found ADViSE increased DVA enquiry, response and referral, and staff confidence in recognising and responding to DVA. Since the pilot, ADViSE has been further refined in collaboration with DVA survivors, commissioners, sexual health staff and patients, and a commissioning prospectus developed. ADViSE has also been officially endorsed by BASHH.
The IRIS ADViSE Programme and commissioning prospectus will be officially launched on the 24th of March 2021, during a one-hour online webinar, from 10 to 11 am. Speakers include Dr. Jeremy Horwood, from the University of Bristol, co-lead of the Behavioural and Qualitative Science Team for National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West) and member of the Sexual Health Improvement Programme Health Integration Team (SHIP HIT), who led the evaluation of IRIS ADViSE, Dr Judith Berry, Consultant in sexual health at Unity Sexual Health and Medina Johnson, Chief Executive at IRISi.
“We invite all sexual health professionals, commissioners of sexual health services and colleagues from frontline sexual health and DVA services to take part in this event where we will be presenting the details of the IRIS ADViSE Programme and how to bring the programme to your local area. It will be a great opportunity to learn how to improve the identification and response to patients affected by domestic violence and abuse and facilitate referral to specialist services.”, explains Medina Johnson.
If you want to know more about The IRIS ADViSE Programme and commissioning prospectus, please join us at our launch or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org